d.m. Classics Major at Howard

John McMahon just posted this to the Classics list … the salient excerpt:

Thornton described as “upbeat” and “very positive” the mood on the campus on Monday, as news of the changes spread. But that mood was far from universal, particularly in disciplines that saw their majors eliminated. “We’ve been relegated to second- or third-class citizenship,” said Rudolph Hock, associate professor and chair of the classics department, a post once held by Frank Snowden Jr., whose scholarship on the status and images of black people in antiquity earned him the National Humanities Medal in 2003, four years before his death. Howard has been the only historically black college to have a classics department since the institution’s inception, he said. “We’ve been marginalized considerably,” Hock continued. “We’re eunuchs.”

Hock was disappointed that four options that he and his colleagues suggested for re-engineering the discipline had failed. The proposed changes included reshaping classics into either an ancient Mediterranean studies program; classics and European studies; a pre-professional studies curriculum with Latin at its core; or classics and religion. Instead of any of these, classics will now be in a concentration that goes by the same name, but is part of an interdisciplinary humanities cluster and likely won’t grant degrees.

The only silver lining, in Hock’s view, is that current majors will be able to finish their degrees. The department’s eight faculty members help to graduate seven majors each year; recently, one was a Rhodes Scholar. Hock also worried about the impact of the decision on his colleagues. “There’s deep depression,” he said, adding that he is glad he is closer to retirement than to the beginning of his career. “The future of the classics here is beyond dismal.”

Earlier in the piece, folks were patting themselves on the back thusly:

“We no longer have to be everything to everyone,” Ribeau said in a statement, reflecting the view that Howard’s place in higher education has changed because it no longer needs to offer the broad range of programs it did when segregation prevented black students from enrolling at many universities. “We have identified specific areas of emphasis and we plan to be leaders in those areas.”

via News: A Leaner Howard U. – Inside Higher Ed.

… that’s it, lets take the universus out of university. A sad day for Howard … a sad day for Classics.

This Day in Ancient History: kalendae februariae

Roman statue Juno Sospita. Plaster cast in pus...
Image via Wikipedia

kalendae februariae

  • Rites in honour of Juno Sospita: Juno Sospita was originally worshipped in Lanuvium, where she seems to have had started out as a fertility goddess of some sort and evolved into a warrior protectrix of the city. When Lanuvium was granted Roman citizenship in 338 B.C., the cult was also given special status and place under the control of the pontifices, who would annually perform a sacrifice to her. There also seems to have been a ritual whereby blindfolded girls would enter her grove to feed barley cakes to the sacred snakes therein. If the cakes were accepted, the girls were proven to be virgins and the fertility for the upcoming year was guaranteed. Which of these rituals — or perhaps both — took place on this day isn’t clear in my sources.
  • Rites in honour of Elernus: Elernus (or Helernus, or maybe Avernus) is another one of those very ancient Roman deities about which we know little, as can be seen by the variations in name. He appears to have been some type of underworld divinity (perhaps being honoured with the sacrifice of a black ox by the pontifices).
  • 1793 – death of John Lempriere (Classical Dictionary)